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The Golden Bough

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  6,831 Ratings  ·  236 Reviews
Before Joseph Campbell became the world's most famous practitioner of comparative mythology, there was Sir James George Frazer. The Golden Bough was originally published in two volumes in 1890, but Frazer became so enamored of his topic that over the next few decades he expanded the work sixfold, then in 1922 cut it all down to a single thick edition suitable for mass dist ...more
Paperback, Wordsworth Reference Series, 756 pages
Published April 1st 1998 by Wordsworth Editions (first published 1890)
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Susan If you still haven't read it yet, just read a good abridged version. I'm pretty sure the Oxford abridgement contains all the relevant hypotheses.…moreIf you still haven't read it yet, just read a good abridged version. I'm pretty sure the Oxford abridgement contains all the relevant hypotheses. Frazer's various original editions will contain many more examples to support his various hypotheses and will make for extremely gruelling reading. The Oxford abridgement is wonderful stuff, but each argument is broken down into lots of smaller arguments, which are in turn supported by up to about a couple dozen examples - fatiguing to read. The unabridged editions will simply hammer the points home, or possibly be more of a compendium to dip into rather than something to read straight through.(less)
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I read an abridged version of this some years ago that I picked up in a bookshop for a pound - the output of a cheap publisher. It was a slow and awkward read, possibly because of the abridgement, but the original was long and appeared in numerous editions each of which tended to get more elaborate during Frazer's lifetime.

The opening echoes Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, the British scholar in Italy looks over the landscape and allows a vision of the past, the product of their c
peiman-mir5 rezakhani
دوستانِ گرانقدر، این کتاب از 69 فصل تشکیل شده است که به موضوعاتی در خصوصِ مذهب و جادو و برخی از رسومات و قوانینِ مردمانِ باستان و حتی پس از آن پرداخته است و البته اشاراتی به داستان های اساتیری (اساطیری) نیز نموده است... که به هرحال کنکاش و پژوهشی که «جیمز فریزر» بریتانیایی انجام داده است، قابل ستایش است
دوستانِ اهلِ پژوهشی که قصد دارند تا این کتاب را به زبانِ اصلی بخوانند، میتوانند از لینکِ زیر استفاده کنند
Nick Black
Mar 23, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Influential without bound and ere-breaking of ground, this is undeniably a major modern classic that reshaped its entire field. Of course, most of Frazier's theses have been broadly discredited, but it's not like you're studying comparative mythology to build bridges with it (although it's been proposed that unsold copies of Joseph Campbell, shredded to a fine mist, would provide high-quality industrial weathering and cheap insulation suitable for the Third World).

That having been said, this boo
Michael J.J. Tiffany
Discovering The Golden Bough, and then Graves' The White Goddess (which owes a critically huge debt to the Golden Bough), was a life-changing time for me that recast the stories I had vacuumed up at that age, from Greek myths to Kipling, as about something more than their contents or even the authors intent. It was first published over 100 years ago; still, nothing can get a boy into that modernist, meta- meta- meta- perspective on society like The Golden Bough. Of course it's only fair that we ...more
Cassandra Kay Silva
This is such an important work. If you take it from the perspective of what it is, an anthology of rituals and belief systems found in religious and non religious cultures across the globe. As some other readers have pointed out it is not linear, it is also not well coordinated in way of connecting points and making/laying out statements about those points. But what it is absolutely superb and unbeatable in, is its exhaustive amount of information. I did read the full version, and the sheer amou ...more
Oct 26, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One simply cannot, in my opinion, understand anything about the history and origins of religion -- and of society (for the primitive social unit, the family, is primarily a religious unit) -- without a thorough mastery of this book.

In this context, a study of de Fustel Coulanges is also essential:
Ahmed Almawali
Nov 01, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
قبلَ كل شئ لم تلبث اللسانُ وأنا أقرأُ هذا الكتاب أن تشكرَ وتحمدَ اللهَ على نعمةِ الإسلام حيث وضوح تصور الحياة والكون.

الغصن الذهبي من الكتب التي حيرتني كثيرا في اختيار الترجمة التي اقرأها، فتوفر لي في نفس الوقت ترجمتان: ترجمة دار كلمة بيد محمد زياد، وترجمة الهيئة المصرية للتأليف بيد أحمد أبوزيد، وفي النهاية رجحت لي كفة ترجمة دار كلمة لأنها مشوقة أكثر وتزينها الرسوم، ولكن عندما انتصفت رأيت ترجمة أحمد أبوزيد ورفاقه أجمل وأكثر وضوحا وإبرازا للمقصود، على الرغم أن الترجمات العربية بعمومها ملخصة ومختصر
Oct 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Golden Bough is no doubt an exercise in patience. To be clear, I have not finished this book, and will not for many years. This book takes time to digest and fully understand, but once that time is taken to contemplate it, literally everything that can be seen in the world opens up to the insights that are provided. Expecting to read this book once, without careful pause and effort, is akin to attempting to understand the enlightenment of the ages in an afternoon. I can see how many parts of ...more
Oct 14, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I read this, like many people, because I know how influential it was. I studied English in college, and this book always kept cropping up. So I thought to myself, maybe if I read this, I'll have a greater understanding of Modernist writers.


How to describe this? 850 pages of poorly argued drivel. The only part worth reading is the section on sympathetic magic. That part at least actually seems to be going somewhere and actually makes sense. It's an interesting and intelligent way of thin
Dec 15, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Book Description
A classic study of the beliefs and institutions of mankind, and the progress through magic and religion to scientific thought, The Golden Bough has a unique status in modern anthropology and literature. First published in 1890, The Golden Bough was eventually issued in a twelve-volume edition (1906-15) which was abridged in 1922 by the author and his wife. That abridgement has never been reconsidered for a modern audience. In it some of the more controversial passages were droppe
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  • The White Goddess: A Historical Grammar of Poetic Myth, Amended and Enlarged Edition
  • From Ritual to Romance
  • Shamanism: Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy (Bollingen)
  • Primitive Mythology
  • Hamlet's Mill: An Essay Investigating  the Origins of Human Knowledge & Its Transmission Through Myth
  • Myths and Symbols in Pagan Europe: Early Scandinavian and Celtic Religions
  • Aradia: Gospel of the Witches
  • Tristes Tropiques
  • Pursuit of the Millennium: Revolutionary Millenarians and Mystical Anarchists of the Middle Ages
  • Patterns of Culture
  • The Great Mother: An Analysis of the Archetype (Bollingen)
  • Ecstasies: Deciphering the Witches' Sabbath
  • The Witches' Goddess
  • In the Dark Places of Wisdom
  • The Language of the Goddess
  • A History of Pagan Europe
Scottish social anthropologist influential in the early stages of the modern studies of mythology and comparative religion.
More about James George Frazer...
“Small minds cannot grasp great ideas; to their narrow comprehension, their purblind vision, nothing seems really great and important but themselves.” 42 likes
“By religion, then, I understand a propitiation or conciliation of powers superior to man which are believed to direct and control the course of nature and of human life. Thus defined, religion consists of two elements, a theoretical and a practical, namely, a belief in powers higher than man and an attempt to propitiate or please them. Of the two, belief clearly comes first, since we must believe in the existence of a divine being before we can attempt to please him. But unless the belief leads to a corresponding practice, it is not a religion but merely a theology; in the language of St. James, “faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.” In other words, no man is religious who does not govern his conduct in some measure by the fear or love of God. On the other hand, mere practice, divested of all religious belief, is also not religion. Two men may behave in exactly the same way, and yet one of them may be religious and the other not. If the one acts from the love or fear of God, he is religious; if the other acts from the love or fear of man, he is moral or immoral according as his behaviour comports or conflicts with the general good.” 10 likes
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